Warwickshire authorities explain what they will do after report on SEND provision leaves parents 'reeling and in tears'

Warwickshire authorities have come together to explain how they will tackle the issues outlined after last year's inspection

The backpack protest at Shire Hall in Warwick against what some parents and carers have described as a "crisis" in SEND services in Warwickshire. Photo by Geoff Ousbey.
The backpack protest at Shire Hall in Warwick against what some parents and carers have described as a "crisis" in SEND services in Warwickshire. Photo by Geoff Ousbey.

The authorities responsible for SEND provision in Warwickshire have published a joint statement on how they plan to tackle what Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) described as 'significant weaknesses' in SEND provision in the county.

Ofsted and the CQC conducted an inspection in July last year, publishing the results in September.

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When the results were published campaigners said parents of disabled children in the county were left 'reeling and in tears'.

At the time the inspection took place our sister paper the Leamington Courier reported that SEND Crisis Warwickshire staged a protest at the county council's Shire Hall Headquarters.

The protest saw parents of SEND children leave school bags on the steps of the building.

Each backpack had a message attached that they hoped the inspectors would listen to.

At the time, a spokesperson for the group told the Courier: "The silent protest represented the voices of children with SEND who have been left for years without support.

"Sadly, it seems that yet again their messages haven't been adequately heard."

The report appeared to reflect the concerns of families and campaigners, with the CQC and Ofsted writing: "The inspection raises significant concerns about the effectiveness of the local area."

In the report, the CQC and Ofsted instruct those responsible for provision to provide a written statement, explaining what would be done to tackle the issues.

And now Warwickshire County Council. Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Warwickshire Parent Carer Voice have published their response.

In their statement, they explain how they plan to tackle the 'significant weaknesses', which have been identified as the following:

- The waiting times for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) assessments, and weaknesses in the support for children and young people awaiting assessment and following diagnosis of ASD.

- The fractured relationships with parent carers and lack of clear communication and co-production at a strategic level.

- The incorrect placement of some children and young people with Education Health and Care plans in specialist settings, and mainstream school leaders’ understanding of why this needs to be addressed.

- The lack of uptake of staff training for mainstream primary and secondary school staff to help them understand and meet the needs of children and young people with SEND.

- The quality of the online local offer.

Councillor Penny-Anne O’Donnell, Warwickshire County Council’s cabinet support for SEND, said: "Since the inspection, senior leaders in Warwickshire County Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group have been working with services and stakeholders to understand the actions we need to take to make improvements.

"These include working with parents and carers, staff, the SEND and Inclusion Partnership, and schools and settings.

“I would personally like to thank everyone who has been involved in the development of the Written Statement of Action to date and for helping Warwickshire to improve the services they provide to children, young people and their families.

"Moving forward, progress on all actions within the plan will be regularly reviewed through our WSoA Steering Group, the Department for Education and NHS England. I look forward to seeing the difference we can make by working together to improve the lives of children and young people across Warwickshire.”

Dr Sarah Raistrick, chair of Coventry and Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We welcome the publication of the Written Statement of Action for Warwickshire which sets out our priorities for improving services for children and young people with a special educational need and their families and demonstrates the work which has already taken place across the system to deliver change.

"We remain committed to working with our partners and our population to deliver these improvements and creating long term sustainable differences for our children and young people, parents and carers.”

To view the Written Statement of Action, visit: api.warwickshire.gov.uk/documents/WCCC-555761535-440